Monday, May 17, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here?

So, here we are. As one of my professors in theology would say, we've done it! The whole liturgy, little bit by little bit. I started this project the first week of Advent, thinking it would last maybe through the Christmas Season. Maybe. And now we've just passed the Ascension.

In the long term, I'm not exactly sure what the next step is for this blog. I'm actually moving in the coming months, and so there will definitely be time, probably a couple months, when I'm not posting anything at all.

But for the short term at least, I thought I might keep writing little bits and pieces about the liturgy -- things I notice these days, liturgical moments I missed along the way, and also some things I covered that might benefit from some further research. (Like, why the heck is that some priests do the institution narrative talking directly to the body and blood? As I wrote before, I think it misses the whole point of the moment. But who cares? It's a practice people have. Why not learn about it.)

But at this point, I just want to thank you for reading. For me the liturgy is like a very big house with many interesting little rooms and passageways. And over the years, especially since getting ordained, I've had the opportunity to notice a lot more of the details of those rooms. I am clearly no expert, but to be able to share and reflect on what I've seen and wondered about is a great gift. I have learned a lot, and really appreciated the comments and questions people have had for me. Keep them coming, and I'll try to pursue them.

I'm away from New York and the internet over night on a retreat. But, in place of a new entry tomorrow, here's a little extra piece today.


I absolutely hate reading the responsorial psalm at Mass.

There, I said it. I really, really cannot stand it. I would rather listen to the 9th grade boys trying to tell jokes than to be asked to read it.

And I say this as someone who not only loves the psalms, but as someone who spent two years writing a thesis on them. I should love reading them. I should be the guy they say, oh yeah, we got a psalm to read, go get Jim. Let him break that bad boy open.

If I read the responsorial the way I want to, the way I read the reading, the way you would read poetry, with pauses after important lines, taking your time, etc., the congregation begins the response before I've finished my verse. Every time, they do this. Every time.

Which causes me to go all crazy clumsy Lucille Ball on the following verses, speaking too fast, adding in weird a-rhythmic emphases that make it sound like I might be having a stroke (or impersonating someone who is), and throwing the end of one line on top of the beginning of the next to keep the congregation from beginning too soon.

This works, but it is hugely unsatisfying. That word is not being broken open, just broken. It ain't being proclaimed. It's Shakespeare turned into Jenga.

Really, I need a 3 credit class in responsorial psalm reading. Or, if not 3 credits, a solid afternoon seminar. Really. Somebody to sit me down tell me how you do it. Here's the audio cue you have to make to let the congregation know you're not done yet. Here's the rhythm and speed you need to use. Here's the way to turn that jumble of random hiccups and second guesses into something palatable to the ear and to the soul. Here's how to turn your creepy Joe Cocker impression into good news.

Yeah. That would be nice to add to my repertoire. Because at this point, I pretty much have got what doesn't work down pat.

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